The July 25 editorial “Slipping through the ’Net,” regarding the desirability of public debate regarding offensive cyberforces, argued, “We had a decades-long debate about nuclear weapons, and it was healthy for the country and the world.”
Readers should remember that in the early days of nuclear weapons, much about them and warfare was secret. We did not talk much with the Soviets about such matters, and the Cuban missile crisis nearly destroyed the world. It was primarily afterward that we came to understand the value of talking publicly about nuclear weapons and doctrines.
Cyberweapons are not at all like nuclear weapons, but the lesson is the same. The 2009 National Research Council report (of which I was an editor) that was cited in the editorial recommended that the United States conduct a broad, unclassified national debate about cyberattack policy. It also stated that the U.S. government should work to find common ground with other nations regarding cyberattack on such subjects as how the laws of war and the U.N. charter apply to cyberattack, the significance of nonstate parties that might launch cyberattacks and how nations should respond to such attacks. Both of these recommendations remain still valid.
Herbert Lin, Washington
The writer is chief scientist for the National Research Council’s Computer Science and Telecommunications Board.
The debate over whether to require certain critical businesses to adopt cybersecurity standards should raise a dilemma for Republicans — and should provide a forum for stimulating intellectual exploration [“Senate ready to take up cybersecurity bill that critics say is too weak,” news story, July 25].
Unfortunately, Republicans too often seem to approach issues as either black or white. Among the few major Republican principles are: 1) strong national defense, 2) smaller government and 3) fiscal conservatism.
Yet, where cybersecurity is concerned, the current Republican approach apparently focuses exclusively on the principle of smaller government while ignoring national defense and fiscal conservatism. A cyberattack would likely produce a major national security issue requiring substantial government spending.
Sara Dunham Kraskin, Potomac